Gheebah (Backbiting)

Allah T'ala says in the Holy Quran:
 O you who have believed, avoid much suspicion, for some suspicions are sins. Do not spy, nor should any one backbite the other. Is there any among you who would like to eat the flesh of his dead brother?' Nay, you yourselves abhor it. Fear Allah, for Allah is Acceptor of repentance and All-Merciful. (49:12)


Gheebat (back-biting) has been defined thus: "It is saying on the back of a person something which would hurt him if he came to know of it. " This definition has been reported from the Holy Prophet himself. According to a tradition which Muslim, Abu Da'ud, Tirmidhi, Nasa'i and others have related on the authority of Hadrat Abu Hurairah, the Holy Prophet defined Gheebat as follows:
"It is talking of your brother in a way irksome to him." It was asked: "What, if the defect being talked of is present in my brother ?" The Holy Prophet replied: "If it is present in him, it would be Gheebat; if it is not there, it would be slandering him."
In another tradition which Imam Malik has related in Mu'watta, on the authority of Hadrat Muttalib bin `Abdullah, "A person asked the Holy Prophet: What is Gheebat? The Holy Prophet replied: It is talking of your brother in a way irksome to him. He asked: Even if it is true, O Messenger of Allah? He replied: If what you said was false, it would then be a calumny."

These traditions make it plain that uttering a false accusation against a person in his absence is calumny and describing a real defect in him Gheebat; whether this is done in express words or by reference and allusion, in every case it is forbidden. Likewise, whether this is done in the lifetime of a person, or after his death, it is forbidden in both cases.

According to Abu Da'ud, when Ma`iz bin Malik Aslami had been stoned to death for committing adultery, the Holy Prophet on his way back heard a man saying to his companion: "Look at this man: Allah had concealed his secret, but he did not leave himself alone till he was killed like a dog!" A little further on the way there was the dead body of a donkey lying rotting. The Holy Prophet stopped, called the two men and said: "Come down and eat this dead donkey." They submitted: "Who will eat it, O Messenger of Allah?" The Holy Prophet said: "A little before this you were attacking the honor of your brother: that was much worse than eating this dead donkey."

The only exceptions to this prohibition are the cases in which there may be a genuine need of speaking in of a person on his back, or after his death, and this may not be fulfilled without resort to backbiting, and if it was not resorted to, a greater evil might result than backbiting itself. The Holy Prophet has described this exception as a principle, thus: "The worst excess is to attack the honour of a Muslim unjustly." (Abu Da'ud).
In this saying the condition of "unjustly" points out that doing so "with justice" is permissible. Then, in the practice of the Holy Prophet himself we find some precedents which show what is implied by "justice" and in what conditions and cases backbiting may be lawful to the extent as necessary.

Once a desert Arab came and offered his Prayer under the leadership of the Holy Prophet, and as soon as the Prayer was concluded, walked away saying: "O God, have mercy on me and on Muhammad, and make no one else a partner in this mercy beside the two of us." The Holy Prophet said to the Companions: `What do you say: who is more ignorant: this person or his camel? Didn't you hear what he said?" (Abu Da`ud). The Holy Prophet had to say this in his absence, for he had left soon after the Prayer was over. Since he had uttered a wrong thing in the presence of the Holy Prophet, his remaining quiet at it could cause the misunderstanding that saying such a thing might in some degree be lawful; therefore, it was necessary that he should contradict it.

Two of the Companions, Hadrat Mu`awiyah and Hadrat Abu Jahm, sent the proposal of marriage to a lady, Fatimah bint Qais. She came to the Holy Prophet and asked for his advice. He said: "Mu`awiyah is a poor man and Abu Jahm beats his wives much." (Bukhari, Muslim). In this case, as there was the question of the lady's future and she had consulted the Holy Prophet for his advice, he deemed it necessary to inform her of the two men's weaknesses.

One day when the Holy Prophet was present in the apartment of Hadrat 'A'ishah, a man came and sought permission to see him. The Holy Prophet remarked that he was a very bad man of his tribe. Then he went out and talked to him politely. When he came back into the house, Hadrat `A'ishah asked: "You have talked to him politely, whereas when you went out you said something different about him. " The Holy Prophet said, "On the day of Resurrection the worst abode in the sight of Allah will be of the person whom the people start avoiding because of his abusive language." (Bukhari, Muslim). A study of this incident will show that the Holy Prophet in spite of having a bad opinion about the person talked to him politely because that was the demand of his morals; but he had the apprehension lest the people of his house should consider the person to be his friend when they would see him treating him kindly, and then the person might use this impression to his own advantage later. Therefore, the Holy Prophet warned Hadrat `A'ishah telling her that he was a bad man of his tribe.

Once Hind bint 'Utbah, wife of Hadrat Abu Sufyan, came to the Holy Prophet and said: "Abu Sufyan is a miserly person: he does not provide enough for me and my children's needs. " (Bukhari, Muslim). Although this complaint from the wife in the absence of the husband was backbiting, the Holy Prophet pemitted it, for the oppressed has a right that he or she may take the complaint of injustice to a person who has the power to get it removed.

From these precedents of the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet, the jurists and traditionists have deduced this principle: 'Gheebat (backbiting) is permissible only in case it is needed for a real and genuine (genuine from the Shari'ah point of view) necessity and the necessity may not be satisfied without having resort to it". Then on the basis of the same principle the scholars have declared that Gheebat is permissible in the following cases:

(1) Complaining by an oppressed person against the oppressor before every such person who he thinks can do something to save him from the injustice.

(2) To make mention of the evils of a person (or persons) with the intention of reform before those who can do expected to help remove the evils.

(3) To state the facts of a case before a legal expert for the purpose of seeking a religious or legal ruling regarding an unlawful act committed by a person.

(4) To warn the people of the mischiefs of a person (or persons) so that they may ward off the evil, e g. it is not only permissible but obligatory to mention the weaknesses of the reporters, witnesses and writers, for without it, it is not possible to safeguard the Shariah against the propagation of false reports, the courts against injustices and the common people or the students against errors and misunderstandings. Or, for instance, if a person wants to have the relationship of marriage with somebody, or wishes to rent a house in the neighborhood of somebody, or wants to give something into the custody of somebody, and consults another person, it is obligatory for him to apprise him of all aspects so that he is not deceived because of ignorance.

(5) To raise voice against and criticise the evils of the people who may be spreading sin and immorality and error, or corrupting the people's faith and persecuting them.

(6) To use nicknames for the people who may have become well known by those names, but this should be done for the purpose of their recognition and not with a view to condemn them. (For details, see Fat-h al-Bari, vol. X, p. 362; Sharah Muslim by An-Nawawi; Riyad us-Salihin; al-Jassas, Ahkam al-Qur an; Ruh al-Maani commentary on verse wa a yaghtab ba 'dukum ba 'dan).
 
Apart from these exceptions it is absolutely forbidden to speak ill of a person behind his back. If what is spoken is true, it is Gheebat; if it is false, it is calumny; and if it is meant to make two persons quarrel, it is slander. The Shari'ah has declared all these as forbidden. In the Islamic society it is incumbent on every Muslim to refute a false charge made against a person in his presence and not to listen to it quietly, and to tell those who are speaking ill of somebody, without a genuine religious need, to fear God and desist from the sin. The Holy Prophet has said: If a person does not support and help a Muslim when he is being disgraced and his honour being attacked, Allah also does not support and help him when he stands in need of His help; and if a person helps and supports a Muslim when his honour is being attacked and he is being disgraced, Allah Almighty also helps him when he wants that AIlah should help him. (Abu Da'ud).

As for the backbiter, as soon as he realizes that he is committing this sin, or has committed it, his first duty is to offer repentance before Allah and restrain himself from this forbidden act. His second duty is that he should compensate for it as far as possible. If he has backbitten a dead person, he should ask Allah's forgiveness for the person as often as he can. If he has backbitten a living person, and what he said was also false, he should refute it before the people before whom he had made the calumny. And if what he said was true, he should never speak ill of him in future, and should ask pardon of the person whom he had backbitten. A section of the scholars has expressed the opinion that pardon should be asked only in case the other person has come to know of it; otherwise one should only offer repentance, for if the person concerned is unaware and the backbiter in order to ask pardon goes and tells him that he had backbitten him, he would certainly feel hurt.


In the verse, Allah by likening backbiting to eating a dead brother's flesh has given the idea of its being an abomination. Eating the dead flesh is by itself abhorrent; and when the flesh is not of an animal, but of a man, and that too of one's own dead brother, abomination would be added to abomination. Then, by presenting the simile in the interrogative tone it has been made all the more impressive, so that every person may ask his own conscience and decide whether he would like to eat the flesh of his dead brother. If he would not, and he abhors it by nature, how he would like that he should attack the honour of his brother-in-faith in his absence, when he cannot defend himself and when he is wholly unaware that he is being disgraced. This shows that the basic reason of forbidding backbiting is not that the person being backbitten is being hurt but speaking ill of a person in his absence is by itself unlawful and forbidden whether he is aware of it, or not, and whether he feels hurt by it or not. Obviously, eating the flesh of a dead man is not forbidden because it hurts the dead man; the dead person is wholly unaware that somebody is eating of his body, but because this act by itself is an abomination. Likewise, if the person who is backbitten also does not come to know of it through any means, he will remain unaware throughout his life that somebody had attacked his honour at a particular time before some particular people and on that account he had stood disgraced in the eyes of those people. Because of this unawareness he will not feel at all hurt by this backbiting, but his honour would in any case be sullied. Therefore, this act in its nature is not any different from eating the flesh of a dead brother.

(Tafheemul Quran)

'Adl, Ihsan and Qurba

The first part of verse 16:90 says:

             "Allah enjoins justice, generosity and kind treatment with kindred."

The verse 16:90 is being recited in Jumuah khutbas every Friday in millions of Masajid throughout the world since the time of Umar bin Abdul Aziz (may Allah T'ala be please with him).

The first of these three commandments of Allah T'ala is justice which has two aspects.
To make such arrangements as may enable everyone to get one's due rights without stint. Justice does not, however, mean equal distribution of rights, for that would be absolutely unnatural. In fact, justice means equitable dispensation of rights which in certain cases may mean equality. For example, aII citizens should have equal rights of citizenship but in other cases equality in rights would be injustice. For instance, equality in social status and rights between parents and their children will obviously be wrong. Likewise those who render services of superior and inferior types cannot be equal in regard to wages and salaries. What AIIah enjoins is that the full rights of everyone should be honestly rendered whether those be moral, social, economic legal or political in accordance with what one justly deserves.

 

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The Etiquette of Dealing with Parents

 

We gratefully acknowledge Islamic Publications (Pvt.) Ltd. 
for permission to reproduce this excerpt from 
"Etiquettes of Life in Islam" by Muhammad Yusuf Islahi

1.

Behave well towards your father and mother and consider this good conduct as a propitious act which will earn God's grace in this world as well as in the next. Next to God, man owes the greatest obligation to his parents. The greatness and value of this obligation towards one's parents may be realised from the fact that the Holy Qur'an at several points mentions the rights of parents and the rights of God simultaneously at one place. Furthermore, the Holy Qur'an has ordained the duty of offering thanks to the parents along with thanksgiving to the Lord. 


"Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none save Him and (that ye show) kindness to parents.

Hadrat 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud (God be pleased with him) relates "I submitted to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) which deed will win the highest favour of God?" The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) answered : "The prayer which is offered at the appointed hour. I submitted again: 'Next to this which other deed will win the greatest favour of God?' The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) affirmed : "Good conduct towards father and mother." I again submitted : 'And next to this?' The Prophet of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) observed: "Jihad [literally, earnest endeavour; in this context it means armed conflict or fighting] in the way of Allah." (Bukhari, Muslim) 

Hadrat 'Abdullah (God be pleased with him) reports : "One day a person went to the presence of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and submitted : "I give my hand into your hand and swear allegiance for performing Hijrat and Jihad and I beseech a reward from God in return for this." The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) enquired: "Is one of your parents alive?" He submitted: "Yes, praise be to God, both my father and mother are alive." Thereupon the Prophet of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) observed : "Well then do you really want to receive a reward from God for performing Hijrat and Jihad?" The man replied : "Yes, indeed, I beseech reward from God in return for these acts." The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) observed : "Go then. Attend to your parents and serve them well". (Muslim) 

Hadrat Abu Umama (God be pleased with him) relates: "A man enquired from the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him): "O Prophet of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon you)! What are the rights of parents over their offspring?" The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) affirmed: "Your entry into Paradise or Hell depends on your good or bad conduct towards your parents." (Ibn Majah) 

In other words, if you treat them well, you will be sent to Paradise and if you violate the rights that your parents have over you, you will be consigned to serve as fuel for Hell-Fire." 

2.

Be grateful to your parents. Thanksgiving and an acknowledgement of debt and gratitude are the first duties which a beneficiary owes to the benefactor. It is a fact that the parents are the palpable cause for our existence. Again, it is under their protection and upbringing that we grow up to an age of maturity. The extraordinary self- sacrifice, unparalleled devotion and deep affection with which they patronize us demand that our hearts should be filled with sentiments of reverence, indebtedness, love and an acknowledgement of their magnanimity and every fibre of our heart should pulsate with feelings of gratitude to them. It is for this reason that God has ordained offering of gratitude to parents along with thanksgiving to Him. 


"(We willed) that you should offer thanks to Me and remain grateful to your father and mother." 

3.

Always try to make your parents happy. Do not say anything in opposition to their will or temperament which may displease them, especially when they are advanced in age they acquire a peevish and irritable temperament. In old age parents start making unexpected demands and begin proffering impossible claims. In this case also tolerate their behaviour in good cheer and do not say anything in anger in response to their demands which may cause them pain and may injure their feelings. 


"If one or both of thy parents reach an advanced age with thee, say not 'fie' unto them nor repulse them.

As a matter of fact, the strength to tolerate unpleasant things is sapped daring old age and weakness increases the sense of self-importance in old people. Hence they react sensitively to even minor offensive matters. Keeping in view their delicate and sensitive nature, do not let your parents feel angry by any of your words or deeds. 

Hadrat 'Abdullah b. Amr (God be pleased with him) relates that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) affirmed : "The pleasure of God is contained in the pleasure of the father even as His displeasure is contained in the displeasure of the father." (Tirmidhi, Ibn Hibban, Hakim) 

In other words, anyone who wants to please God should seek the pleasure of his father, for if the father is angry, the favour of God cannot be earned. The one who makes his father angry provokes the wrath of God." 

Another statement of Hadrat 'Abdullah (God be pleased with him) runs as follows: "A man left his parents weeping and came to the presence of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) for the purpose of offering allegiance to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) for Hijrah. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) observed to him: "Go back to your parents and return after making them happy as you came after leaving them crying." (Abu Dawud) 

4.

Do service to your parents with heart and soul. If God has afforded you the opportunity to serve your parents, it is in fact a favourable opportunity for you to earn entitlement to Paradise and to win the Pleasure of God. Good service to parents secures blessings and grace in both worlds and man obtains salvation from the calamities of this world and the next. Hadrat Anas (God be pleased 'with him) relates: "Any man who desires that his life should be prolonged and his subsistence may be increased ought to do good service to his parents and show kindness to them." (Al-Targhib-o-Tarhib) 

The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has observed : "Let that man be disgraced, and disgraced again and let him be disgraced even more." The people enquired : "O Prophet of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon you) who is that man?" The Prophet of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) affirmed: "I refer to the man who finds his parents old in age - both of them or one of them - and yet did not earn entitlement to Paradise by rendering good service to them." (Muslim) 

On one occasion, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) gave precedence to the obligation of looking after one's parents over one of the supreme forms of worship like Jihad. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) forbade a companion (God be pleased with him) to proceed on Jihad and urged him to look after his parents. 

Hadrat 'Abdullah ibn 'Amr (God be pleased with him) relates that a person came to the presence of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah he upon him) with the intention of participating in the Jihad. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) enquired from him : "Are your father and mother alive?" He submitted : "Yes, they are alive". The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) thereupon observed: "Go and render good service to them. This is the Jihad". (Bukhari, Muslim) 

5.

Respect and adore your parents and do not show disrespect to them by a single word or action. The Holy Qur'an affirms: 

"But speak to them a gracious word.

On one occasion Hadrat 'Abdullah b. 'Umar (God be pleased with him) enquired from Hadrat Ibn 'Abbas (God be pleased with him) : "Do you wish to ward off Hell and gain entry into Paradise?" Ibn 'Abbas (God be pleased with him) answered : "Yes, why not, I swear in the name of God I cherish this desire". Hadrat Ibn 'Umar (God be pleased with him) then asked : "Are your parents alive?" Ibn 'Abbas (God be pleased with him) replied : "Yes, my mother is alive," Ibn 'Umar (God be pleased with him) remarked: "If you talk to them in a polite manner and look after their needs and feed them well, you will certainly be admitted to Paradise provided you abstain from capital evils." (Al-Adab-ul Mufrad) 

Hadrat Abu Huraira (God be pleased with him) once saw two men. He asked one of them : "What is your relationship with the other man?" The person replied: "He is my father." Hadrat Abu Huraira (God be pleased with him) thereupon advised him, "Look, never call him by his proper name, walk ahead of him nor sit before he takes his seat." (Al-Adab-ul Mufrad) 

6.

Be faithful and humble towards your parents. 


"And lower unto them the wing of submission through mercy."

To offer humble obedience to parents implies to pay constant regard to their dignity. Do not assume a haughty attitude towards them, nor treat them with insolence.

7.

Love your parents and consider this act as a privilege and a source of reward in the eternal world. Hadrat Ibn 'Abbas (God be pleased with him) relates that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) observed : "The pious offspring who casts a single look of affection at his parents receives a reward from God equal to the reward of an accepted Hajj." The people submitted: "O Prophet of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon you) : If someone casts a hundred such glances of love and affection at his parents, what then?" The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) observed; "Yes, indeed, even if one does so a hundred times a day, he will get a hundred fold reward. God is far greater than you imagine and is completely free from petty narrow mindedness." (Muslim) 

8.

Obey your parents with full devotion. Even if they show some intransigence, obey their will cheerfully. Keeping in view the great favours which they have done to you, try to fulfil all their demands willingly which may be offensive to your own taste or temperament, provided, of course, they are not derogatory to the tenets of religion. 

Hadrat Abu Sa'id (God be pleased with him) narrates that a person came to the presence of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) from Yemen. The Prophet of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) enquired from him, "Do you have any relations in Yemen?' He submitted: "Yes, my father and mother are there". The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) then asked: "Did they give you permission to leave?" He submitted: "No, I did not take their permission". The Prophet of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) thereupon observed : "Go back then and ask the permission of your father and mother. If they agree, come back and join the Jihad, otherwise, attend on them and render good service to them." (Abu Dawud) 

Realize the value of rendering obedience to parents from the fact that a man came from miles intending to join the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in Holy war for the glory of religion, yet the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) turned him back saying: "You can join the Holy War only if both your father and mother allow you to do so.

Hadrat Ibn 'Abbas (God be pleased with him) reports that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) observed: "The man who wakes up in the morning having previously discharged all the duties and obligations laid upon him by God concerning his parents, he will find the two gates of Paradise open for him on waking up in the morning; and in case there is only one parent, the person will find one door of Paradise open for him. And in contrast if a man wakes up in the morning having previously disregarded any obligations or duties laid upon him by God concerning his parents, then he will find two gates of Hell open for him on waking up in the morning; and in case one of the parents is alive, then the man will find one gate of Hell open for him." The man submitted: "O Prophet of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon you), if the parents are treating him wrongly, what then?" The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) affirmed: "Yes, even if they are treating him wrongly; yes, indeed, even if they are treating him wrongly." (Mishkat) 

9.

Consider your own goods as the property of your parents and spend your capital on them with an open hand. The Holy Qur'an affirms:


Yus'alunaka madha yunfiquna qul ma anfaqtum min khairin falil walidaini. ( 2:215 )

They ask thee, what they shall spend. Say what ye spend for good mast go to parents." 

On one occasion a man came to the presence of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and complained that his father took whatever goods he wanted from him. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) sent for that man's father. An old, infirm man came walking with the help of a stick. When the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) interrogated him on the point, the old man submitted: "O Prophet of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon you)! There was a time when I was strong and he was weak and helpless. I had money and he was empty-handed. I never forbade him then to lay his hands on anything that I possessed. Today, he is strong and healthy and I am old and infirm. He has money and I am empty-handed. He now denies me access to his goods." Upon hearing this tale of the old man, the Benefactor of the humanity (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) burst into tears and addressing the son of the old man observed: "You and your goods are the property of your father.

10.

Even if your father and mother are non-Muslims, treat them well. Continue to pay them respect and devotion and serve them faithfully. However, in case they command you to become a polytheist or indulge in a sinful act, refuse to obey them and sternly repulse their demand. 


"And if your (parents) pressure you to associate someone with Me of which you
have no knowledge, obey them not, yet continue to treat them well in the world.

Hadrat Asma' (God be pleased with her) states: "In the sacred lifetime of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), my mother visited me on one occasion. She was a polytheist at that time. I submitted to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him): "My mother has come to pay me a visit and she is an unbeliever in Islam. How should I treat her?" The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) observed: "Yes, you should continue to show kindness to your mother." (Bukhari) 

11.

Offer prayers begging grace for your parents, Bring to mind their fervent appeals to the Lord and beg His mercy for them with a zealous and sincere heart. God ordains: 


"And say: My Lord! Have mercy on them both 
as they did care for me when I was little." 

In other words, say: "O Creator, with mercy, devotion, affection and love, my Lord, they reared me in childhood and sacrificed their own pleasure and ease for my sake but, they, in their infirmity and helplessness of old age, are more deserving of kindness, and love than I ever was. God! I can pay them no recompense. Do patronize them and show them mercy in their miserable state".

12.

Observe special care in looking after your mother. By nature, the mother is weak and more sensitive and needs your better treatment and devotion. Moreover, her favours and sacrifices are comparatively far greater than the father. Hence religion has conceded preferential rights to the mother and has enjoined upon the believers to treat their mothers with special consideration. The Holy Qur'an affirms: 


"And We have commanded unto man kindness towards parents.
His mother beareth him with suffering, 
bringeth him forth with suffering, 
bearing of him and weaning of him is thirty months." (46:15)

While enjoining upon the believers to show good behaviour towards both father and mother, the Holy Qur'an has drawn a poignant picture of constant suffering of pain and hardships by the mother and has excellently pointed out in a psychological manner the fact that the devoted mother deserves comparatively more of your service and kind behaviour than your father. The same fact has been elucidated in greater detail by the Prophet of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). 

Hadrat Abu Huraira (God be pleased. with him) reports: "A man came to the presence of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and submitted "O Prophet of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon you!' Who deserves the noblest treatment from me?' The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) observed: "Your mother." He again submitted: "And next?' The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) observed : "Your mother." When the man submitted for the fourth time: "And who next?" The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) observed: "Your father." (Al-Adabul Mufrad) 

Hadrat Jahma (God be pleased with him) paid a call on the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and submitted: "O Prophet of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon you)! I wish to join you in the Jihad and have come to solicit your guidance in this matter. I seek your command." The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) enquired from him : "Is your mother alive?" Jahma (God be pleased with him) submitted: "Yea, she is alive." Thereupon the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), said "Return to her then and devote yourself to her service, for Paradise lies under her feet." (Ibn Majah, Nasa'i) 

Hadrat Uwais (may God show him mercy) was a contemporary of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), but be could never attain the privilege of calling on the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). He had an old mother to whose service he devoted himself day and night. He cherished a great desire to see the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and it was but natural for every Muslim to have a burning desire to catch a glimpse of the Prophet of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Hadrat Uwais (God be merciful to him) indeed wanted to pay a call, yet the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) forbade him to come. Similarly, Hadrat Uwais (mercy of God be on him) cherished an ambition to discharge the obligation of Hajj, yet as long as his mother remained alive, Hadrat Uwais (God be merciful to him) never set out for the Hajj alone, he fulfilled the desire to perform Hajj only after his mother's demise. 

13.

Treat your foster mother well. Do service to her and show her respect and adoration. Hadrat Abu Tafail (God be pleased with him) states: ''I once witnessed the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) distributing meat at a place called 'Ja'rana'. Presently, a lady arrived and approached near the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). The Prophet of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) spread out his sheet for her and the lady sat on it. I enquired from the people, "Who is this lady?" The people told me: "This lady is the foster mother of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). (Abu Dawud) 

14.

Remember your parents after they have passed away. Observe the following etiquette to render good service to your deceased parents: 
 

i. Offer prayers continuously invoking mercy of God upon your dead father and mother.
The Holy Qur'an enjoins upon the pious to say this prayer: O our Lord! Grant forgiveness to me and my parents and pardon all the faithful on the day of Reckoning

Hadrat Abu Huraira (God be pleased with him) states: "When the deceased is elevated to high degrees of favour, he inquires in astonishment : "How so?" He is informed by God, "Your offspring have been offering prayers begging mercy for you (and God has accepted those petitions of mercy)." 

Hadrat Abu Huraira (God be pleased with him) also states: "The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) observed : The opportunity to do something ends with one's death, yet there are three things which continue to afford benefit to him after death - a recurring charitable act; knowledge which he has imparted to others from which people derive benefit and thirdly, pious offspring who continue to offer prayers invoking mercy of God upon him. 

ii. Fulfil all the contracts and promises made by your parents and carry out their will. Your parents must have made many agreements with some people, they might have made a covenant with God; they might have taken a vow; they might have promised to deliver goods to someone; they might have owed a debt to somebody but were unable to discharge it before death overtook them; they might have made a will at the time of their death. Fulfil all these obligations to the extent of your means. 

Hadrat 'Abdullah b. 'Abbas (God be pleased with him) narrates: "Hadrat Sa'd b. 'Ubada (God be pleased with him) submitted to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), "O Prophet of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon you)! My mother had taken a vow, but she expired before discharging it. Can I carry out the vow on her behalf?" The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) affirmed: "Why not! You must carry out the vow taken by her.

iii. Show good conduct to the friends of your father and the female companions of your mother. Treat them with respect. Seek their advice just as you seek the advice of your elders and pay due regard to their opinions and advice. On one occasion, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) observed : "There is no superior deed of piety than that man should do good service to the companions and friends of his father.

Once Hadrat Abu Darda (God be pleased with him) fell ill and his condition continued to aggravate till they lost all hope of his life. Hadrat Yusuf b. 'Abdullah (God be pleased with him) made a long journey and came to enquire after his health. On seeing him, Hadrat Abu Darda asked in astonishment: "How are you here?" Yusuf b. 'Abdullah (God be pleased with him) replied : "I have come here only to enquire after your health, for you were on terms of deep friendship with my late father." 

Hadrat Abu Barda (God be pleased with him) relates: "When I arrived in Medina, 'Abdullah b. 'Umar (God be pleased with him) paid me a visit and said : "Abu Barda (God be pleased with you), do you know why I have come to see you?" I replied : "No, I have no idea why you have come here." Thereupon Hadrat 'Abdullah b. "Umar (God be pleased with him) said: "I have heard the Prophet of God (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) as affirming: "The man who wishes to render good service to his father, who is in the grave, ought to show good treatment to his father's companions and friends." Having related this saying of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) 'Abdullah b. 'Umar (God be pleased with him) remarked: "Brother, my father "Umar and your father (God be pleased with him) were on terms of deep friendship. I wish to commemorate this friendship and fulfil its duties." (Ibn Hibban) 

iv. Show constant good treatment to the relations of your parents and entertain full respect and pay due regard to the sanctity of these connections. An indifferent and irresponsible conduct towards these relations is tantamount to treating your own parents with indifference and negligence. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) observed: "Do not observe indifference towards your forefathers. To show carelessness in your conduct towards your parents is to display ingratitude to God.

15.

If, God forbid, you have been guilty of negligence in treating your parents well or discharging your full obligations towards them during their lifetime, do not despair of God's mercy. Offer prayers constantly invoking blessings of God upon your deceased parents. It is possible God may forgive your sin of negligence and admit you among the ranks of the pious people. 

Hadrat Anas (God be pleased with him) relates: The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) affirmed: "If a person does not observe filial devotion to his parents during their lifetime, and both parents or one of them passes away, the person ought to offer prayers for his deceased parents and beg His Mercy and beseech Him to grant salvation to them till God in His Mercy ordains their admission to the rolls of the pious people.



Etiquettes of Life in Islam, by Muhammad Yusuf Islahi, © 1990, is published by Islamic Publications (Pvt.) Ltd. 13-E Shahalam Market, Lahore, Pakistan


 

Reference url: http://muslim-canada.org/parents.html

The Fallacy of Utilitarian Morality

Allah T'ala says in the Holy Quran:

 إَنَّ الَّذِينَ لاَ يَرْجُونَ لِقَاءنَا وَرَضُواْ بِالْحَياةِ الدُّنْيَا وَاطْمَأَنُّواْ بِهَا وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ عَنْ آيَاتِنَا غَافِلُونَ

أُوْلَـئِكَ مَأْوَاهُمُ النُّارُ بِمَا كَانُواْ يَكْسِبُونَ

 

Surely those who do not expect to meet Us, who are gratified with the life of the world and content with it, and are heedless of Our signs,their abode shall be the Fire in return for their misdeeds. (The Holy Quran, 10:7-8)


The statement that is being made here is that rejection of the doctrine of the Hereafter necessarily entails the punishment of Hell, and the argument that is being proffered in support of it is that those who are oblivious to the Hereafter commit, because of their disbelief in it, evil deeds which can only lead to them suffering the torments of Hell. This argument is corroborated by the entire record of man's past. It is quite clear that the lives of those who do not believe that they will not be held to account by God for their deeds; who work on the assumption that life is merely confined to the span of worldly existence; who measure human success or failure only in terms of the extent of material comfort, fame and power that a person is able to enjoy; who under the influence of such materialistic notions do not even care to pay attention to those signs of God which point to reality, assume an altogether wrong direction with the result that their life is vitiated. Hence they live a totally unbridled life, develop the worst possible character traits, and fill God's earth with injustice and corruption, with sin and transgression, and ultimately end up meriting the punishment of Hell.

The above argument about the Hereafter is drawn from human experience itself. Although in the present verse the argument is found only in an implicit form, it is spelt out at several other places in the Qur'an. The argument essentially is that unless man's character rests on the consciousness and conviction that he will have to render an account for all his deeds to God, both man's individual and collective behaviour will fail to have sound basis and direction. It would seem, therefore, to be worth asking: why is this so? Why is it that once this consciousness and conviction are altogether ended or greatly enfeebled, the human character turns to iniquity and corruption? Had affirmation of the Hereafter not been in conformity with reality, and conversely, had its denial not been opposed to it, then the evil consequences flowing from the denial of the Hereafter would not have been found with such unfailing regularity. If adherence to a proposition invariably leads to good results, and failure to adhere to it invariably leads to evil consequences, then this definitely proves the proposition to be true.

In an attempt to refute the above argument it is sometimes contended that even atheists who reject the Hereafter and follow a materialistic approach to life often lead lives that are on the whole good and decent, that they hold themselves free from corruption and injustice. Not only that but also that their actual conduct is characterized by righteousness and benevolence. However, only a little reflection will make apparent the fallacy underlying this argument. For if one were to examine any atheistic or materialistic philosophy or ideology one will not find in them any basis for righteous behaviour which draws such lavish praise from so-called 'righteous' atheists. Nor can it be established by logical reasoning that an atheistic philosophy of life provides any incentive to embrace such virtues as truthfulness, trustworthiness, honesty, faithfulness to one's commitment, benevolence, generosity, preferring the interests of others to one's own, self-restraint, chastity, recognition of the rights of others, and fulfilment of one's obligations. The fact is that once God and the Hereafter are relegated to oblivion, the only practicable course left for man is to anchor his morality on utilitarianism. All other philosophical ideas which are expounded are merely theoretical embellishments and have no relevance for man's practical life.

As for utilitarian morality - no matter how hard we might try to broaden its scope - it does not go beyond teaching man that he ought to do that which will yield to him or to his society some worldly benefit. Now since utility is the criterion of all acts, such a philosophy tends to make man cynical, with the result that in order to derive benefits, he will not differentiate between truth and lie; between trustworthiness and treachery; between honesty and dishonesty; between loyalty and perfidy; between observing justice and committing wrong. In short, a person under the spell of utilitarian ideas will be ready to do a thing or its opposite, depending on what serves his interests best. The conduct of the British is illustrative of this stance. It is sometimes contended that though the British have a materialistic outlook on life and generally do not believe in the Hereafter, they are more truthful, fairer, and more straightforward and faithful to their commitment.
The fact, however, is that the tenuous character of moral values under a utilitarian moral philosophy is amply illustrated by the character of the British.

For their actual conduct clearly shows that they do not consider moral values to have any intrinsic worth. This is evident from the fact that even those values which are held by the British to be good in their individual lives are brazenly flouted when they act as a nation. Had the qualities of truthfulness, justice, honesty and faithfulness to one's committed word been regarded as intrinsic virtues, it would have been altogether out of the question for the elected rulers of Britain to cynically violate all moral principles in governmental and international affairs and yet continue to retain the confidence of the British people. Does such a behaviour of a people who do not take the Hereafter seriously prove that they do not believe in absolute moral values? Does it also not prove that, guided by concern for material interests, such people are capable of following mutually opposed views simultaneously? (The same arguemnt can be made against the United States and many other governments and societies of today.)

Nevertheless, if we do find some people who, in spite of their not believing in God and the Hereafter, consistently adhere to some moral virtues and abstain from evil, there should be no mistaking that their righteous conduct and piety represents the continuing influence which religious ideas and practices have over them - even if unconsciously - rather than their subscription to a materialistic philosophy of life. If they possess any portion of the wealth of morality, there can be no doubt that it was stolen from the treasure-house of religion. It is ironical that such persons are now using the same wealth derived from religious sources, to promote an irreligious way of life. We consider this an act of theft because irreligiousness and materialism are altogether bereft of morality. (slightly edited version of text taken from Tafheemul Quran)

Prophet's Appearance and Dress

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Appearance

Muhammad (s.a.a.w.) was of a height a little above the average. He was of sturdy build with long muscular limbs and tapering fingers. The hair of his head was long and thick with some waves in them. His forehead was large and prominent, his eyelashes were long and thick, his nose was sloping, his mouth was somewhat large and his teeth were well set. His cheeks were spare and he had a pleasant smile. His eyes were large and black with a touch of brown. His beard was thick and at the time of his death, he had seventeen grey hairs in it. He had a thin line of fine hair over his neck and chest. He was fair of complexion and altogether was so handsome that Abu Bakr composed this couplet about him:

"As there is no darkness in the moonlit night so is Mustafa, the well-wisher, bright."

His gait was firm and he walked so fast that others found it difficult to keep pace with him. His face was genial but at times, when he was deep in thought, there there were long periods of silence, yet he always kept himself busy with something. He did not speak unnecessarily and what he said was always to the point and without any padding. At times he would make his meaning clear by slowly repeating what he had said. His laugh was mostly a smile. He kept his feelings under firm control - when annoyed, he would turn aside or keep silent, when pleased he would lower his eyes [Tirmidhi].

Dress

His dress generally consisted of a shirt, tamad (trousers), a sheet thrown round the shoulders and a turban. On rare occasions, he would put on costly robes presented to him by foreign emissaries in the later part of his life. [Ahmed, Musnad, Hafiz Bin Qayyim]

His blanket had several patches. [Tirmidhi] He had very few spare clothes, but he kept them spotlessly clean. [Bukhari] He wanted others also to put on simple but clean clothes. Once he saw a person putting on dirty clothes and remarked,

"Why can't this man wash them." [Abu Dawood]

On another occasion he enquired of a person in dirty clothes whether he had any income. Upon getting a reply in the affirmative, he observed,

"When Allah has blessed you with His bounty, your appearance should reflect it." [Abu Dawood]

He used to observe:

"Cleanliness is piety."

 

Reference url: http://muslim-canada.org/muhammadatharhusain.html

Short Quotes

Gentle

"By the grace of Allah, you are gentle towards the people; if you had been stern and ill-tempered, they would have dispersed from round about you" [Qur'an 3:159]